Browned Butter Banana Streusel Cake (Gluten-free!)

 
ivoryhut Gluten-free Banana Streusel Cake

 
 
Banana cake was one of the very first things I ever attempted to bake. I still remember clearly the day. It was sometime in the mid-90s, when my hair was much longer and I still had delusions dreams of being some kind of Melissa Etheridge rock musician. I was at our neighbor’s condo, watching our friend make banana cake without a recipe, simply mixing ingredients together until the consistency looked right to him. I was so amazed you’d think I was watching someone split an atom.

As much as I enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen, I never imagined baking would ever figure in my repertoire. I stayed clear of it because I thought it required a level of precision I just wasn’t capable of, and a few early disasters convinced me I was better off leaving it to the experts. Truth be told, I was more comfortable assisting with circumcision. (You’ll be glad to know that, unlike baking, there were no early disasters in my brief medical career.)

Friday Special Pizza

 
ivoryhut Friday Special pizza

 
 
Growing up in the Philippines, we didn’t have a wealth of choices of pizza places. We had a favorite restaurant called The Italian Village, and we’d get to our table, order our food, grab a few breadsticks, then my brothers and I would rush to stand in front of a giant glass pane in front of their kitchen, watching the pizza guys fling the dough in the air. Forget about crayons and connecting the dots. The only thing that could pry us away from that sight was the wafting scent of our pizza as it arrived.

Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata)

ivoryhut Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk

 
Lately I’ve been on a Filipino food kick. Perhaps it’s because I’d grown weary of this overstaying winter (though today was beautiful and warm). Or perhaps because some of the best comfort food is the food you grew up eating. The food of my home makes me think of my grandmother, the sound of a tropical breeze rustling coconut leaves, and Sunday afternoons playing in the sun with my cousins.

 
(Then I remember the time we played hide-and-go-seek outside in the middle of the night and no one came to look for me for half an hour. That part? Not so comforting.)

 
Squash and Green Beans in Coconut Milk (Kalabasa at Sitaw sa Gata in Filipino) is one of my favorite Filipino vegetable dishes. It’s not truly vegetarian, though you can easily make it so. Traditionally, we flavor this dish with tiny shrimp and ground or diced pork. I had neither, so this is my simple, adapted version. In place of shrimp, I used fish sauce; for the ground pork, I used my home-cured bacon.

Home-cured Bacon

ivoryhut home-cured bacon

 
 
Ever since Michael Ruhlman wrote about home-cured bacon, I’d been wanting to take a crack at it. As a dutiful Filipino, I’m no stranger to pork belly. We slice it thick and grill it, cut it into large cubes and make adobo or sinigang (a tamarind-flavored soup, the Filipino version of tom yum), or we dice it up and serve it with fried tofu cubes and a soy-vinegar-garlic dipping sauce.

 
Filipinos love pork. Don’t even get me started on sisig, which takes the pork love to a whole different level.

Whiskey Hot Sauce (And a Food Heroes Giveaway!)

ivoryhut Whiskey Hot Sauce

 
 
Update: Congratulations! Random winner was comment #5: Kristy. Send me an email at and let me know where to send your book! I know you’ll love it. It’s so wonderfully written. Thank you to everyone for playing!
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Growing up, I was a wimp when it came to spice. Oh, I could ingest enough garlic to leave vapor trails and I’d pile the sauteed onions on my bistek Tagalog until you couldn’t see the beef underneath, but if I so much as half-bit into a whole peppercorn, I’d be fanning my mouth and asking for water. I couldn’t even tolerate our local banana catsup that was flavored ever-so-slightly with banana peppers.

 
A wimp. That’s what I was.

about me

I write, cook, play music, and make pictures. Not necessarily in that order. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and it shows. That means I eat rice with every meal, love my cousins like my own siblings, and firmly believe that avocados are best eaten with cream and sugar.

If you want to learn more about me, here are 43 things I'd like to do. Here's a little something about my name, in case you were wondering. Here are some other places you'll find me:

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LOST AND FOUND

One summer night in 2010, our house burned to the ground and we lost everything we had. This is the story of what happened and how life and hope can always rise from ashes.



I'm proud to belong to an amazing community of Filipino food lovers. Together, we celebrate this often-neglected Asian cuisine, sharing our family's treasured recipes and discovering new ones along the way. This is our club.
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